Everyone from outdoor enthusiasts to military personnel benefits from seeing across far distances. Hunters, in particular, often embody the needs of both groups.
After all, a hunter needs to track wild animals like they were bird watching and must hit them from afar like a military sniper.
Two devices on the market allow hunters to track their prey well: A pair of binoculars and a monocular.
But what sets these two optical devices apart? Which one is better for your needs?
Let’s find out as we pit a monocular vs. binoculars and see what makes each better in certain situations.
Let’s find out which one of them is the better hunting companion!
- What Is a Monocular?
- What Are Binoculars?
- Monocular vs Binoculars: Similar Features
- Monocular vs Binoculars: Key Differences
- What to Consider When Choosing Between Monocular and Binoculars
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Verdict: Which Should You Use for Hunting?
What Is a Monocular?
This telescope-like optical device is known to the average person as “binoculars… but halved.”
While they are very similar, that’s not entirely the case. A monocular excels on its own merits.
A monocular has only one lens. It’s a single-lens device that allows users to see long-distance. Despite being popular with hunters, hikers and the military, in particular, it’s an underrated piece of gear.
The version most used on the market is the night vision monocular. Being able to see with proper magnification works doubly well during no-light operations or low-light conditions.
Monocular pros know that a top-notch monocular is invaluable in situations when you need to see the action from a distance fast.
A monocular works best when spotting or tracking moving targets at high speeds and needs you to whip your optic around to keep up.
This makes it ideal for bird watching and hunting on the move.
It is compact, lightweight and easy to carry, giving you an image on par with binoculars with none of the bulk and heft. It’s also much more affordable to buy a monocular.
After all, you’re paying for half that of binoculars without sacrificing image quality. Thanks to a similar objective lens, it gives you great focus and a sight picture comparable to sniper scopes.
An excellent monocular has a high zoom ability that only increases as the models increase in size. Even then, the average monocular will help you see what you need to see.
Night Vision Monoculars
Military forces swear by night vision monoculars because they gather in more light without ruining your natural eyesight. It is much easier to adjust to the darkness using only one eye.
Having only one objective lens, a monocular focuses on giving a clear view of a single point of interest. Its narrower field of view helps in rapid target acquisition.
It allows the user to focus on their prey without the distractions that a wide field of view brings.
This helps troops quickly spot their objective and stow their gear away before moving.
Having only one eye to see with makes it a pain to use over extended periods. It is best used as a telescope, with users taking a quick peek into it, spotting and tracking moving targets, and moving on.
Low eye relief makes users prone to eye fatigue. Using a monocular for extended periods can give users eye strain, making for an unpleasant, even painful experience.
Though having less weight than binoculars, a monocular uses smaller lenses. That and often low-powered magnification mean a smaller field of view and lower long-distance ability.
What Are Binoculars?
Binoculars are the gateway optic before young astronomers save up for their first telescope.
Before would-be hunters buy their first sniper scope, everyone starts with a pair of binoculars.
Traditional binoculars are optics that integrate two lenses and offer a clear field of view despite their high magnification options. They come at various price points and binocular types.
Modern binoculars use roof prisms or Porro prisms. This dictates the shape of your binoculars because of how the lenses absorb light and feed it into the eyepiece.
The best binoculars work for almost every occasion. They work in sporting events, military operations, hunting and outdoor sight-seeing thanks to their objective lens and zoom power.
Some advantages of using binoculars are that many binoculars offer independent focus adjustment. This feature allows users to adjust the focus of binoculars for each tube.
Having double the amount of vision works wonders, giving you more magnification options and a wider field of view than a monocular. This allows you to see more at long distances.
It is also more ideal to use over a longer period. Keeping both eyes open naturally helps reduce eye strain and increase your eyes’ ability to focus.
This ease of use is why binoculars are so prevalent. They’re ideal for sporting events, stationary shooting and watching wildlife because of how easy they are on the eyes.
Night Vision Binoculars
While most night vision binoculars are a monocular that has one objective lens and an IR illuminator lens, real NV binoculars provide a clear image of what’s in the distance.
They allow users to scan their environment in extreme darkness for extended periods, perfect for fixed-position shooters to spot their elusive targets and get on their sniper scopes.
While having both eyes open naturally reduces eye fatigue, other parts of your body may suffer because of how bulky binoculars are, being twice a monocular in weight and size.
Compact binoculars may be widely available on the market, but binoculars are still more difficult to bring around and more unwieldy to use, keep, and deploy than a monocular.
Having double everything, from the objective lens to the amount of padding and armor a monocular has, means that buying many binoculars entails paying double the price.
Monocular vs Binoculars: Similar Features
When it comes to high-end optics, a grey area exists where both these optics have much more in common than simply helping you see across extreme distances.
#1 Magnification Levels
The best monocular and binoculars have comparable zoom levels.
Both optics deal in medium to high-level amplification ranging from 3-9x on the low-end to the 6-18x military scale high-end.
While both can produce similar zoom, binoculars making consistently higher magnifications because of their larger lens capacity is par for the course between them.
#2 Clear Focus
Both provide a clear focus and allow users to see out of their binoculars and optics clearly without worrying about getting dizzy or losing track of their mark.
Shaking and blurriness are huge pains, especially when you need to pan fast when stalking prey or following birds. A good optic smoothens the ride and allows the image to remain clear.
This is especially useful at night, as monoculars and binoculars with night vision need to produce high-quality images to give users an idea of what they’re looking at.
#3 Objective Lens
You can pick either a binocular or a monocular, and both promise one thing: A high-quality lens.
There’s no use looking through the tubes if there’s no picture, after all.
Objective lenses gather light in and allow visuals to be displayed to the user through the eyepiece.
The better or wider the lens, the more light it gathers, giving you better views.
Monocular vs Binoculars: Key Differences
This wouldn’t be much of a match-up if we didn’t discuss what makes these two kinds of optics distinct from each other.
#1 Number of Lenses
The most obvious, in-your-face difference is the number of lenses each possesses. As the name implies, binoculars possess two, while a monocular only has one.
This impacts everything from how deep the field of view is to how much magnification it can handle. It even impacts how heavy and how expensive your devices will be.
Having more lenses means you can have split focus settings for each eye and create more depth. While having a monocular means you don’t hurt your eyes in night conditions.
#2 Field of View
Another key difference between binoculars and monoculars is how wide you can see out of your device. Having twice as many lenses ensures a wider field of view with binoculars.
Both are equally matched at close focus distances, where your target isn’t extravagantly far. If your target is at a distance, keeping track of it over long periods goes to binoculars.
A monocular’s compact package has a clear size advantage over binoculars twice the size. A monocular can be stored anywhere, even slung around the neck for easy access.
Binoculars are heavy, unwieldy at times, and can become tiring to carry and bring out given enough time. It’s more pleasant to deploy a monocular and then keep it.
As for comfort, binoculars do have the advantage of eye usage. It’s less painful to use them over long periods because they allow you to keep both eyes open and focus equally.
What to Consider When Choosing Between Monocular and Binoculars
While we’ve laid out the similarities and differences between a monocular vs. binocular, you need to consider a few key factors before buying the best optical device for you.
Magnification levels relate to how close an object looks through an optic compared to the naked eye. The higher magnification you need, the farther away an object is.
Your optics are very similar in terms of amplification settings. They’re neck and neck when it comes to zoom numbers. The difference comes down to how long you can look.
At higher magnifications, binoculars provide better eye relief, allowing you to look through them for more sustained periods than a monocular without straining your eyes.
2. Image Quality
Having clear images for optics that utilize the user’s vision is everything.
A good monocular or binoculars have effective light-gathering capabilities even in low light situations, pushing them through the lens and filtering the view into the eyepiece.
A monocular also comes with an image stabilizer, preventing shaking as you pan across your landscape. Binoculars provide a wider field of view, giving you more out of what you see.
If your binoculars remain fog proof, and your monocular provides clear images even in the dark, that’s how you can see the bigger picture.
3. Lens Clarity
Both optics have similar lens construction.
It would be best to buy a device with ultra-clear glass for unobstructed vision and eye relief. After all, no one likes looking through scuffed glass.
Quality lenses ensure a fog-proof user experience, and fully coating them eliminates glare.
Excellent objective lenses effectively funnel light into the eyepiece, giving a clearer picture.
You’ll find better price points with a monocular than a binocular.
Though both optics have affordable options, a monocular is cheaper than similar high-quality binoculars.
Despite this, binoculars are more widely accepted and have a wider variety of options to choose from. Availability may still go to binoculars.
Your EXPERIENCE using an optic may be an even more decisive factor than what you’re using it for. Your purchase decision may come down to how the device feels in your hands.
A monocular has a clear advantage for portability and ease of use. You can let it hang from a lanyard or shove it in a cargo pocket. It’ll fit snugly in your hand and won’t weigh you down.
Binoculars, however, provide a more natural feeling, keeping both eyes open. You dissipate eye strain and gain better depth perception. It makes for a less irritating experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Have any questions on a specific kind of optic?
Looking for specific products to take to the field?
Don’t worry, optic users. We’re here to help.
What Is the Advantage of a Monocular Over Binoculars?
While a binocular may seem like the go-to for optics users, a monocular has a few distinct features that make it a must-have over its two-eyed counterpart:
- For starters, a monocular only needs one eye vision to see through. This makes it more convenient and accessible for those with use in only one eye than a binocular.
- It is also smaller and way less bulky, being less than half the size of a binocular. This makes it easier to shove into a pocket and carry around with the rest of your hunting gear. It’s easier to whip out as well for a quick spot.
- Lastly, a monocular is more budget-friendly than a binocular. Though a night vision monocular tends to get pricey, they are generally more affordable than double-lens binoculars.
What Magnification Is Best for Hunting?
Whether it’s sniper scopes, a monocular or a pair of binoculars, a good optic is essential for target vision and ensuring a hunter’s mission gets accomplished.
To hunt deer or elk, a hunter would need at least 3-9x magnification with a 40mm objective lens for a daytime target, common for a target that’s less than 100-200 yards away.
While that is severely underpowered for military sniper scopes (aiming above 1000 yards), the more long-range game will require 6-18x amplification, more common on tactical optics.
Which Is the Best Night Vision Monocular?
Arguably the best night vision monocular optic on the market right now is the Luna Optics G-3 Digital Monocular. It has everything you could ask for in a monocular.
It comes with 6-36x magnification and a 50 mm objective lens, on par with high-quality sniper scopes. It also doubles as an excellent HD video camera, recording in Blu-ray quality.
The G-3 has excellent nighttime sensitivity as well, equipped with an ultra-powerful IR Illuminator to give you perfect infra-red viewing up to 400 meters in the pitch dark.
This Luna Optics monocular has consistently outranked competitors list after list due to its innovative, high-tech package, giving you perfect far sight day and night.
Final Verdict: Which Should You Use for Hunting?
There may be no clear winner in the battle between monocular vs. binoculars.
A few key takeaways from this match-up are that both optics have high-quality lenses that allow you to see across distances. They have similar magnification and overlapping functions.
- In terms of quality ratio, a MONOCULAR outmatches in portability, pricing, and ease of use, making for quick sightings and better night vision capabilities.
- BINOCULARS, meanwhile, excel in reducing eye fatigue, giving a wider field of view and are more comfortable on the eyes (if heavier on the hands and wallet).
In the end, it’s better to pick based on where you will use them.
- Sporting events, stationary watching, and scanning an environment work for binoculars.
- Bird watching and rapid checks are for a monocular.
What matters most is that you find the optic that gives you the best view of your target without hurting your eyes or weighing you down.
It should work for you and help you see far!
Overall, the choice of the best optic is entirely up to you. You may need a binocular one day and a monocular the next.
The important this is to evaluate YOUR needs and choose accordingly.